In For Review: Helm Audio’s $99 Bolt Dongle DAC/Headphone Amp

The $99.99 Bolt DAC/Headphone Amp from Helm Audio is certainly the slimmest dongle DAC to arrive in-Barn of late, giving it the appearance of a dongle without a DAC!

But I can assure you that packed inside the pencil-sized business end of the Bolt is an MQA-capable DAC that performs the final “unfold” up to 24bit/384kHz. When playing back non-MQA high-res content, PCM resolution is capped at 96kHz. The Bolt is PCM-only so DSD files will need to be converted to PCM prior to hitting the Bolt (which can be accomplished in your media player of choice).

The Bolt comes with a handy leatherette pouch.

The Bolt is terminated with a USB-C Input and 3.5mm Headphone Output but the company also includes a USB-C to USB-A adapter. The company sees the Bolt mainly being used with computers, but its size also makes it a comfortable fit for mobile phone use as well.

A tiny LED on the Bolt’s tiny body lights up different colors depending on the incoming file’s genetic makeup.

The Bolt joins the recently arrived Clarus CODA DAC and a host of AudioQuest DragonFlys for what’s turning out be a mini DAC/Headphone Amp extravaganza!

Company Website: Helm Audio